Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ Anniversary Edition Is a Reappraisal and Reaffirmation of Its Genius: Album Review
Jem Aswad Senior Music Editor When Daft Punk launched its fourth and presumably final mission statement, “Random Access Memories,” into the atmosphere 10 long years ago, it was greeted with the kind of genre- and generation-spanning adulation that’s rare in any genre. At the time of its release, the supernova of cool around Daft Punk was so pervasive — and the hits from the album, particularly “Get Lucky,” were so ubiquitous — that it topped album charts all over the world, won four Grammys (including album of the year and best-engineered album) and got a whopping 8.8 score from Pitchfork, a publication that played no small role in the duo’s rise. Yet it was a drastic about-face for the pioneering duo, whose electronic and dance music of the previous 15-odd years had spawned countless influences and whose world-shaking 2006-7 tour basically spawned EDM. Fans expecting another electronic masterpiece instead they got a deliberately retro album that intentionally used the technology and recording techniques of the ‘70s and ‘80s to evoke the pristine, perfectionist grooves of Michael Jackson, Chic, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac and others — and even unfurled a yacht-rock flag on “Fragments of Time.” It has orchestras, choirs and a battery of top-notch musicians including pioneering funk guitarist Nile Rodgers, virtuoso bassist Nathan East, pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz and powerhouse drummer Omar Hakim. There are guitar solos, tinkling electric pianos, ‘70s funk bass, piledriving drums and even acoustic guitars. Bored with electronics, the duo “wanted to do what we used to do with machines and samplers, but with people,” said the duo’s Thomas Bangalter.